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Old 06-27-2002, 08:44 AM   #1
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Unhappy Battery Dead/Power jack question

I went out to the storage lot to pick up the Safari last night to get it home for preparation for a weekend trip. Pushed the power jack switch and heard nothing but the birds.

Battery is apparently dead...I can't find anything on inside the trailer (but the outside storage compartments are suspect...easy to hit these switches by accident). Bottom line I ended up pulling the battery and taking it home. Battery may be toast at this point. It's been on the 6 amp charger for 11 hours and its only hitting 60% according to the meter on the charger. Once I get the trailer home and some power to the trailer I'll figure out if this is my fault or if the battery is defective.

The question at hand is the power jack. I could have pulled the head (why A/S doesn't use a jack with an emergency crank hole is a mystery to me), and manually cranked the jack but I'm gun shy based on the need to resyncronize the head before you put it back on. Have any of you done this before and can you explain the proper procedure on how to do this without screwing up my warranty on the jack and the jack itself?

Jack
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Old 06-27-2002, 09:13 AM   #2
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Battery and power jack

The power jacks are very prone to failure. When operating the jack, if the voltage is low immediately destroys the motor windings. The jack is only used when a move is considered. Before operation of jack is attempted, the battery condition should be noted. When the voltage is low, the amperage required rises dramatically. After the jack motor self destructs, another jack must be used to raise trailer to connect tow ball. I've replaced the power jack and now use jack armstrong. It has not failed in any situation. If a person was clever, it would not be difficult to make a connection to the tow vehicle for power for the power jack. The tow vehicle battery will be ready to work. The replacement motor is about $125 plus R&R labor.
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Old 06-27-2002, 09:20 AM   #3
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Power jack

Jack,
I asked that question when I was looking at the 2000 Safari's and was told you have to take the head off to manually jack the trailer, is that what your owner manual says? the 2003 Safaries do not have electric jacks either, did you have the battery cutoff switch off?

John
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Old 06-27-2002, 10:18 AM   #4
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John,
Power jacks were not standard equipment on the 2001 Safari's. I requested one be put on at the factory at build time.

There is a mechnical component that has to be removed, maybe not the entire head but its fairly specific about syncronization prior to the component being replaced once you are done with the manual operation of the jack. This information is in the book that came with the jack and on a warning lable on the jack post.

No I didn't use the master cutoff switch. The trailer has sat 60 days since its last use. Not long enough for the battery to be dead of its own natural discharge rate. I'm pretty sure that something must be on and my guess is still a light in the outside storage compartments. The battery has performed well in its first year of service and I can't see it fail at this point. Its easy to either rub these storage fixtures with your arm or something inside slides against the light's slide off/on switch. Unless you look directly at the light, in daylight its almost impossible to tell that a light is on.

The A/S is the first trailer I have ever owned with a factory installed disconnect switch. Since I never have left anything on before, I figured that I wouldn't need to use it. I will use it now.

Frank, your comment about the alternate connection for power to the jack was exactly what someone said to me at work today. I just might do that.

Jack
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:46 AM   #5
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My problem with doing it manually is the gas bottles are right behind the jack and you either use half-a-turn each time or remove the bottles, cover, etc. pretty inconvenient either way and not a good backup design when it does fail.

John
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Old 06-27-2002, 12:32 PM   #6
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Why not ...

When my battery died in my last trailer, I simply backed the truck up close, left the engine running, plugged in the cable from the trailer, and hit the switch on the jack. Up she went. No problem at all. I won't try to use the emergency ratchet unless the jack motor fails.

I had left a storage compartment light switch on. I removed the light fixture completely and used the wiring to install a cigarette-lighter socket. From there. I could reach all my tires with my 12v compressor.

My International has a disconnect switch and I use it every time I leave the trailer. It also disables the power jack so that no one can fool with it.
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Old 06-27-2002, 01:56 PM   #7
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John,
I measured the voltage in the battery when I got it home and only found 4 volts. I do have power from my tow vehicle flowing back to the trailer but in my case since the jack runs through the power system, not enough was available from the battery for the charge being put into it at that point. I ran the engine for 15 minutes and was just beginning to get a faint glow from the indicator lights on the system panel. At that point I knew it was useless to go through this exercise.

My last trailer actually had terminals from the power jack wired to the battery itself. The Airstream jack is powered through the 12 volt fuse box. Maybe those who add their jacks after the trailer is delivered are wired directly to the battery.

I just talked to my local dealer and he strongly advised me to always use the master disconnect when I store the trailer. He said he wasn't surprised that the battery would be dead after 60 days. He noted that the various circuit boards on the appliances are still energized even though the appliance is turned off, thus putting an additional draw on the battery.

So...I learned a lesson. Unfortunately if I lunched the battery, I'll be out shopping this evening. I going to try to get a load test done just to be sure we don't have some other problem. I'd like to get this exchanged on warranty but we will see.

Jack
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Old 06-27-2002, 02:00 PM   #8
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Jack,

Depending on where you go to get it replaced under warranty there should be few questions. I replaced 2 batteries that I felt were questionable and they just said sure. I actually replaced them with ones that cost less and they gave me money back. (this was at Kmart, I wounder why they are bankrupt) So if the battery came from a retail outlet you should be able to just plop it on the counter and go.

Good luck.
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Old 06-27-2002, 02:06 PM   #9
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No,
Unfortunately the battery is an Interstate and is one year old. My dealer noted that I need to take it by an Interstate dealer for an adjustment if possible. Problem is the Interstate dealer in St. Louis is open to the public from 1PM-5PM M-F. Great hours for us working folk eh? It may end up I'll try to find one from a retail outlet like Sams, Wal-Mart, Auto-Zone etc. Unfortunatley my trip tomorrow doesn't give me too many options at this late date.

Jack
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Old 06-27-2002, 03:12 PM   #10
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Power Draw

A lot of folks don't realize that the propane detector pulls a steady draw in the order of milliamps. It's enough to completely drain a battery in a few weeks. They could make detectors that pull a lot less current, but they would cost several times as much.

I don't know why the trailer manufacturers don't put a warning in the manuals. Neither TrailManor nor Airstream mention it. I used to pull one fuse on my TrailManor when I stored it. I always hit the disconnect on the Airstream when I leave it; a side benefit is that the power jack is disabled.

On my last trailer, I put a 5 watt solar panel on the roof. I wired it to a ceiling light circuit which was hot to the battery. It would keep up with the propane detector if I forgot to pull the fuse. I have one more panel in the shop and the Airstream is wired for solar panels. I may go ahead and install it.
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:07 PM   #11
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John, the main disconnect switch on my Safari does not kill the propane detector. Maybe they rethought this when your model came out.

As it ends up I left the battery on the charger so it went about 20 hours. When I got home from work it was about 95%. I took it over to the lot and reinstalled it. I found no lights or appliances on so apparently the detector and lack of killing the disconnect switch may be the factor. When I get back from this weekend's trip my neighbor and I are going to try to determine the amp draw with the disconnect switch open and closed. I'm also going to take it to the local Auto-Zone and have them run a load test.

I guess the big deep cycle battery when drawn down as low as mine was takes a long time to recharge when using a 6 amp charger.

Jack
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:14 PM   #12
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Propane detector

If the disconnect switch doesn't kill the detector, then I would find out which fuse supplies it and pull that fuse when you store the trailer (or else put on a solar panel as I did). It's a slow draw, but it will flatten a battery in time.

In the TrailManor, I always knew I had forgotten to put the fuse back in when the bathroom flourescent light wouldn't come on.
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:17 PM   #13
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Disconnect switch

Come to think of it, even the red light on the disconnect switch is going to run the battery down long term. It doesn't take much week after week to do the job.
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:23 PM   #14
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dead battery/power jack

I'm wondering where this disconnect switch is. I haven't started going thru my A/S to clean or find anything but wanted to be forewarned. Thanks.
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